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Julius Thomas to leave Broncos for Jaguars or Raiders?

Julius Thomas might have to trade in his "Orange Julius" nickname for one that reflects another color.

Reportedly seeking a near record in guarantees for tight ends, Thomas has rejected a five-year, $40 million offer that wasn't structured to his specifications.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport expects Broncos general manager John Elway to let Thomas test his value on the open market -- unless Peyton Manning goes to bat for one of his favorite targets. There are questions in Denver about the former college hoops star's injury history as well as his fit in Gary Kubiak's scheme that requires tight ends to do more blocking on cutback runs.

Thomas will have a "very active market" for his services with Jacksonville and Oakland as potential landing spots, per Rapoport. Atlanta has also been mentioned as a likely suitor.

The Jaguars will be "among the most aggressive pursuers," writes Mike Klis of the Denver Post. The Florida Times-Union agrees that Thomas is a "perfect fit" for a Jags offense desperately in need of a premier red-zone threat.

New Raiders coach Jack Del Rio watched Thomas burn his linebackers and safeties in practice every day for the past two seasons. General manager Reggie McKenzie must add playmakers as the team builds around Derek Carr.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution believes the Falcons will also be interested in Thomas, which jibes with scuttlebutt at the NFL Scouting Combine last week.

Levine Toilolo proved to be an unworthy successor to Tony Gonzalez last season, while Thomas became the first tight end in NFL history with at least 12 touchdowns in back-to-back years.

Thomas isn't merely a product of Peyton Manning's offense. His emergence as a mismatch for linebackers and safeties was the engine that drove the Broncos' record-breaking attack in 2013.

"Skill-set wise as a tight end, he gives you everything," NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah opined last November. "He can run after the catch, he can post you up in the middle of the field, he has a great feel in the red zone. He's an outstanding tight end and a big-time weapon for Peyton Manning."

As a Pro Bowl-caliber talent in the prime of his career, Thomas is exactly the kind of player who should be on the radar of rebuilding teams with salary-cap space to spare.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down the annual "Top 101 free agents" list and discusses the latest in league news. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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